Values are standards or ideals with which we evaluate actions, people, things, or situations. Beauty, honesty, justice, peace, generosity are all examples of values that many people endorse. In thinking about values it is useful to distinguish them into three kinds:

  • Personal values: values endorsed by an individual. For example, some people regard family as their most important values, and structure their lives so that they can spend more time with their family. Other people might value success instead, and give less time to their families in order to achieve their goals.
  • Moral values: values that help determine what is morally right or wrong, e.g. freedom, fairness, equality, etc, well-being. Those which are used to evaluate social institutions are sometimes also known as political values.
  • Aesthetic values: values associated with the evaluation of artwork or beauty.